QUALITY AND TESTING
What Determines Tea Quality?
Many factors affect the quality of tea:
- Environment, including region of the world, amount of sunlight, humidity, temperature, rainfall, soil conditions, and altitude (plants grow more slowly at higher elevations, which allows tea to develop a more complex flavor).
- The tea plant itself, including its variety (there are over 2,000 subspecies), the age of the cultivar (older, slower-growing cultivars produce better flavors), and whether it was a clone or seedling.
- Agricultural practices. Pesticides, for example, destroy helpful organisms in addition to the pests, changing the soil composition; pesticides are also absorbed by the tea plant, which is why TeaHaus teas have been thoroughly tested to ensure they contain no pesticide or heavy metal residue.
- Processing. Every step affects quality, including: the season, and even the time of day, when the leaves are harvested; how the leaves are plucked (machine vs by hand, for example), which leaves are plucked, and plucking expertise; the techniques used and the expertise of the production steps (withering, oxidation, and so on); and blending. In addition, how the finished tea is packed, transported, and stored will impact its quality.
- Brewing. Even the best teas can be compromised with improper brewing!
Worldwide, around eight billion pounds of tea are produced annually. Mainland China and India are the largest producers, and Kenya and Sri Lanka the largest exporters.
Of all the tea produced, over half of it (56%) is considered to be of “poor” quality and is purchased by large companies primarily for tea bags and bulk purposes. Another 43.5% is considered of “mediocre” quality and is used by many “specialty” tea brands.
This leaves only 0.5% of the entire year’s tea harvest that is “high” quality.
Our Teas: Tested for Quality and Purity
Because we are dedicated to bringing you the highest-quality tea on the market, TeaHaus works closely with German tea suppliers—who are known for being premier tea producers, testers, and blenders of fine teas. Our suppliers work directly with tea garden owners, growers, and managers of smaller estates to ensure quality and transparency.
And even though our teas are in that top 0.5% of the world's tea, all of them—including those that are certified “organic”—are subject to the highest scrutiny. Every tea* is tested for purity, both in the garden and in independent labs in Germany, where the testing standards for pesticides and heavy metals are the strictest in the industry.
(*The only exceptions are the limited-quantity teas sourced directly from Mandokoro and Katagi Koukaen gardens in Japan; they are organic but haven't been independently tested in Germany.)
Our suppliers and tea gardens participate in fair trade practices and have the same ecological stewardship that we strive for. We support sustainability for both the environment and the livelihoods of those working in the tea industry.